Team India led by Virat Kohli are perhaps going through their toughest phase in the last two years as the world No. 1 Test team have conceded an unassailable 2-0 lead in the ongoing three-match Test series to the Proteas.
After such a miserable show, the backlash from the fans and media was pretty much expected. In particular, the Indian captain was severely scrutinized for his leadership skills and his failure as a batsman in crunch situations.
Ahead of the third and final Test at New Wanderers Stadium Johannesburg, Kohli defended himself by saying that he is still learning every day to improve as a captain and a player.
"Well every game is a learning experience whether you win or lose. The only thing that you learn is, you can go out and try to do things that have happened in the past, try and not make those errors and that’s probably the only thing that you take forward as a captain and as an individual also. That’s how you progress and determined at this level. So, it’s nothing different. I am learning everyday, it’s not like you stop learning at any stage; when you win you learn as well. So, we are trying to rectify those mistakes and keep the positives in our head at the same time," quoted Kohli while addressing the media on the eve of the third and final Test in Johannesburg.
"As a captain as well, you want to proudly do better in situations when the game has gone away from you at times. So, I have thought about those things as well – how you can still keep the pressure on and not let the game slip away in very quick time. I always keep thinking about my game, how I can learn as a captain and get better in every aspect of what I do. I never stop learning," he added.
India embarked on their tour to South Africa after winning 9 consecutive Test series. Virat Kohli’s troops not only had the chance to become the first ever Test team to register 10 series wins on the trot but also had an opportunity to prove their critics wrong, who have constantly questioned their No.1 Test status.
Virat though feels that such phases are a part and parcel of every sportsman’s career and it crucial to take lessons from them.
"As I said, everyday is a learning phase for me. If I didn't learn from the early days of my career, I wouldn't be here. So it's always an ongoing process of learning everyday, learning from your mistakes, correcting those mistakes and going forward. Even focussing on the positives, yoiu need to be able to still work on your positives to be able to be a consistent international player over a period of time. I have never stopped learning, I will never stop learning."
"Look responsibility can become less or more according to the phases, it's all about hanging in there and accepting all the phases that are coming your way. Sometimes the team is playing so beautifully, you don't need to do anything you feel so relaxed. So even this is a part of it. I have to take it in my stride and go forward. And not sit here and say 'this is a lot of burden' That's not the right attitude. I'm willing to go through any kind of phase, I have gone through bad phases in my career. Ups and downs are a part of a sportsman's career and I understand that. As I said you learn everyday and keep moving forward." said Kohli.
Even though India was at the receiving end having lost the first Test by 72 runs on a fast and bouncy Cape Town track, skipper Virat Kohli had said that there was nothing wrong with the pitch and visitors were just needed to form one or two partnership to cross the line. And the captain still holds the same viewpoint.
Talking about the 22 yards, Kohli said the wicket looks like a typical Wanderers pitch with pace and bounce and the visitors might unleash an all out pace attack against the Proteas.
"Well it’s definitely very different from the last game. I would say similar to Cape Town but a bit more grass on it which we expected. Yeah, it’s going to a very lively wicket throughout the course of the Test match. I think it’s going to be a typical Wanderers wicket where there’s good grass, the surface is going to be hard and good bounce also; pretty much like what was expected."
"We would definitely look at that option (all-seam attack). I am sure both the teams would be thinking about those options, because, as I said, we have taken 40 wickets so far and we need to figure out what’s the best way to pick up 20 wickets again in this Test match. We are going to have discussion on that as well, and the other combinations of the whole team as well. We will have a clear picture at the end of this afternoon," asserted Kohli.
The Indian captain also clarified his statement on the word intent. Virat cited that it should not be mistaken with a healthy strike rate.
"I don't think I mentioned strike-rate. Intent can be leaving the ball or defending the ball as the well. With your body language you can get to know how a person is feeling. That's precisely what I meant. Look, that's always going to be a big factor. When you are playing in conditions that are not your own, your belief and your body language in each minute of a Test match matters," Kohli commented.
"And as a collective unit. So that is something that we have discussed and that is something the guys are looking forward to embrace. As I said we are looking to correcting our mistakes in these two games and intent is going to be a big part of it," he concluded.